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Designing Localisation Research Surveys

brand name localization tips

Question: What have an engineering firms new strapline, a name for a cooking sauce and a company name for an IT consultancy all got in common?

Answer: They have all benefited from global brand name checking service.

The service that many LSP’s call  ‘brand name checking’ or ‘brand name localisation’ (including ourselves) (brand_name_checking_translation_services.html) covers a fairly broad spectrum of content, not just company brand names. Working with clients who are looking to expand into new markets, we’ve designed surveys which have provided insight into straplines, company names, product names, service names and brand icons (font, colour choice etc) to name a few. The objective of this type of research is to ensure that when a product or service is launched in a non-domestic market, there are no negative connotations associated with any of its immediately identifiable attributes (name, strapline, colour etc). Research typically involves a survey which is designed with closed questions to get specific answers. From this research firms can decide if they want to keep names in the source language or translate (or transliterate on occasions) them to a more suitable options.

A typical brand name check, from a client perspective, involves the supply of a briefing document detailing specifics about what is needed to be checked (i.e. strapline) and information and background material on the brand/product/service (its offering/target demographics etc). Clients should also supply information on geographical regions the check is needed for.

A good brand name checking survey is flexible and designed on a case by case client by client basis. It should be created in a way that takes into consideration specifically what the client is aiming to get out of the research. Some firms may also require a dual language survey that examines both the source version of the brand name and a proposed translation/transliteration.

A sample of the types of questions that can get asked in a brand name checking survey (and what they aim to address) can include:

   

1. Pronunciation. How easy is the word/brand name etc to say. Typically we would ask recipients to rate on a scale between 1 and 5 (with 5 being most difficult and 1 being easy) how easy the word is to say. If the pronunciation is difficult (i.e. between 3 and 5) its useful to find out why, so when designing the layout of your survey be sure to allow for space for recipients to explain why.  

2. Negative connotation. The objective with asking this is to find out if there are ANY negative connotations or interpretations with the text. You want to dig as deep as possible. Without leading the recipient too much you want to find out if there is any chance of the brand name/text offending (does it sound like anything unpalatable?, could it be unsuitable for your target demographic? etc).  

3. Similarity to existing brand names. Does the name already exist or are there similar sounding names out there?

4. Any other connotation. Is there anything in the recipients culture which the text sounds like or reminds them of?

5. Are there any positive associations with the text- if so what are they?

 

6. Based on the background given (i.e the brief) for the product/service/brand will the text work in their opinion?

 

7. What images come to mind when you think of this text?  

Designing a survey is only half the challenge. The key to obtaining relevant and reliable responses to the questions is to ask the right people to complete the survey. Sharing as much relevant information with your LSP (i.e the type of person you want to complete the survey) will help when they are selecting recipients for the assignment. Be sure to know how many resources you want to reach with your survey - some clients may feel just having one survey completed per language/locale will be sufficient, others will want a range that they can glean information from.

Many  firms see brand name checking research as doing ‘their homework’ before they launch, but its surprising how many don’t.  We’ve worked with a number of firms who have already established resources in non domestic markets who have not undertaken any form of research into their linguistic attributes of their offering and who are then a little red faced when it transpires through our work that their company name means something very rude in a specific language or could have a negative connotation in a specific culture.  

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Posted by Tom Wilson-Copp

Tom Wilson-Copp is a document design and production consultant who specialises in the project management and delivery of B2B services including design, localisation, off-line production and digital marketing.
With over 12 years experience working within the business services industry, Tom has worked for both large multinationals as well as bespoke service agencies.